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Osteoporosis is a ‘silent killer’ People with osteoporosis will experience bone mass or bone density reduction, and bone structure deterioration, which will increase their risks of having fragility fractures. Even a minor trauma may lead to bone fractures; severe fractures may even be fatal. Osteoporosis has no obvious symptoms, and can only be detected with the help of a bone densitometer. Menopausal women are more prone to develop osteoporosis Bones, like other organs, require constant metabolism. Bone metabolism involves 2 types of cells: osteoblasts for bone formation; osteoclasts for bone resorption; and they work together to attain bone balance in the body. However, for women who are in their late 40s or with a reduction in oestrogen, this balance will be disturbed as their osteoclasts will become more active while their osteoblasts won’t increase accordingly, resulting in a gradual reduction in bone mass and bone density, and their bones will become more fragile. Body parts that are more prone to fractures For osteoporosis patients, fractures are mostly found in the wrist, lumbar spine and hip bones. Wrist and lumbar spine fractures are more common in people in their 50s and 60s, while hip fractures are more common in people over 60s. Among them, the consequences of hip fractures are more serious. As many elderly people with hip fractures may also have other chronic diseases at the same time, they are more prone to complications with fatal outcome during hospitalisation, surgery or rehabilitation. Even if they can survive the incidents, there is still a high chance that they may lose part of their mobilities or self-care abilities, making them unable to live independently or reliant on institutional care, which can seriously affect their daily life. Furthermore, there are other sequelae of lumbar spine fractures, including collapse of vertebrae and bending of back, resulting in hunchback postures and shortening of height, or back pain. 6 lifestyle habits that make you more likely to develop osteoporosis The rate of bone loss is closely related to one’s lifestyle. Prolonged deficiency in calcium or vitamin D, excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages, excessive intake of sodium (salt), smoking, alcoholism, and lack of exercise are all factors that can make you more prone to develop osteoporosis. Moreover, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Women during menopause experience increased bone loss due to changes in hormone levels. As such, women who have just stopped having periods are more prone to develop osteoporosis than men of the same age. In addition, the following people also belong to the high-risk group: elderly people; skinny people; people with family history of osteoporosis; people suffering from certain diseases, such as women suffering from premature menopause due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, men with testosterone deficiency, people with endocrine disorders (such as hyperthyroidism), or those undergoing prolonged high-dose steroid treatments. Early prevention of osteoporosis Apart from the high-risk factors outlined above, in fact, the aforementioned bad habits can be redressed to greatly reduce the chance or alleviate the consequences of osteoporosis. Such measures include having sufficient sunlight exposure to produce vitamin D and calcium, having adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D via a balanced diet, such as dairy products, soy products, dark green vegetables, and fish and seafood eaten with their bones and shells, etc. The following people may need to consult their doctors about taking appropriate supplements: 1) people who are unable to absorb enough calcium from food source due to certain medical conditions, such as lactose intolerance, bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, or under long-term steroid treatments; and 2) people who suffer from vitamin D deficiencies due to working indoors for long hours or prolonged confinement in an institution. As for exercises, weight training and balance exercises such as walking, jogging, and dancing, etc., are recommended. Tai chi is also a good balance exercise. Some studies have shown that it can help reduce the chance of falling and thus (indirectly) the risk of having fractures. In addition to exercising, spending more time hanging out and doing outdoor activities rather than sitting or lying down, is also good for your bones and overall health. Furthermore, people should be more alert in their daily life to prevent falls, such as wearing non-slip footwear, avoiding drowsy drugs, improving vision, etc. If you unfortunately suffer from osteoporosis, you should consult your doctor and consider whether to take medication in order to reduce the risk of having fragility fractures. For further details on this subject, please refer to the article ‘Tips on Menopause Eat the Right Food to Prevent Osteoporosis’ (Chinese version only) in Issue #496 of CHOICE Magazine. Extended reading: How to select non-slip slippers Choosing the right pair of slippers can effectively reduce the chance of slipping at home, thereby reducing the risk of developing fractures. What kind of slippers are good in non-slip performance? For more information, please click here to read the article ‘Beware of Slippery Floors5 Things to Consider when Selecting Slippers’ (Chinese version only).
Should I accept the offer to transfer my membership to another fitness centre as the current centre has been closed? Consumers should understand and consider the following from the fitness centre before deciding : Are there any additional charges involved in the transition scheme How to calculate prepaid and unused services Request that the documents to be signed and the terms and conditions for the transferral be provided in advance The consequences of not accepting the transition arrangement, for example,how to compensate according to the contract terms, or refund the advance payment and deposit Whether to agree to submit personal data to another fitness centre With the closure of fitness centres, what should consumers pay attention to in safeguarding their own rights? Check with the fitness centre for matters and arrangements such as remaining pre-payments, unused services, and how to retrieve personal items in lockers. For refunds, please note the following: Consumers should contact the credit card issuer as soon as possible if they have made a lump-sum payment by credit card, together with the signed statement and a copy of the purchase receipt/contract and try to ask the issuer to claim the unused prepaid portion from the commercial bank of the fitness centre on their behalf Consumers paying by credit card instalments are in fact signing a loan contract with a credit card company. Under normal circumstances, consumers are still responsible for regular repayments Keep all documents properly, such as contracts or receipts, for they may help to provide support in the event of a dispute in the future If the fitness centre is liquidated, will consumers receive compensation? When a business is closed and liquidated, its assets generally need to be used to repay the debts of higher priority creditors. Consumers can only act as unsecured creditors after other creditors, for instance, employees of the liquidating company, government, secured creditors, etc. If there is still a balance, consumers will receive compensation; so there is a chance that consumers may not be able to retrieve or enjoy the purchased products or services, receive payment, or refund the prepaid amount and deposit Does the business suspension of fitness centres mean that it is closed? Can the Consumer Council follow up? If the fitness centre is fully suspended, and the Council fails to contact the person in charge of the company, the usual conciliation process that the Council adopts may no longer apply When a company is liquidated, no matter through self-application or others’ application, a formal notice will normally be provided to entrust a provisional liquidator to take over the company concerned. Therefore, consumers can also pay attention to the official announcement of the company and contact the provisional liquidator as instructed for next-step arrangements, such asregistering as a creditor Although fitness centres are fully aware that they will soon close and fail to provide services to consumers, it continues to entice customers with marketing and promotion. Will this involve a violation of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance? According to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any trader, when accepting payment, intends not to supply the relevant product; or intends to supply a product that is materially different from the product in respect of which the payment or other consideration is accepted; or there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the product can be supplied by the trader within a specified or reasonable period, it is considered breaching the law. If consumers suspect violations of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, they can report the case to the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED). The Council can also refer the cases to C&ED for follow-up Why does the Council propose introducing a statutory cooling-off period in the fitness and beauty industry? Some beauty parlours and fitness centres have been criticised for their business malpractices over the years. Some malefactors in the industry have used high-pressure sales tactics, coercion and sweet talk, to force consumers to prepay for large purchases. In the past few years, the Council has reprimanded a number of traders through naming sanctions. For example, in 2019, the Council named 4 fitness centres and strongly reprimanded their undesirable sales practices targeting inexperienced young consumers. Please visit the following link for details: https://www.consumer.org.hk/en/press-release/fitnesscentre In 2018, the Council published a study report on the mandatory cooling-off period, proposing the introduction of a mandatory cooling-off period targeting specific transaction models (including unsolicited or distance contracts) or trade sectors, such as fitness services, beauty services, timeshare, etc., which allows consumers to unconditionally cancel prepaid contracts involving these industries without reason within a specified period to enhance consumer protection. Please visit the following link for details: https://www.consumer.org.hk/en/press-release/report-cooling-off In 2019, the government consulted the public on introducing a mandatory cooling-off period. The Council supported the proposal in the consultation document to introduce a cooling-off period of 7 calendar days and a refund period of 14 calendar days in specified industries to allow consumers sufficient time to process refund arrangements The government stated in the Policy Address that it planned to issue a public consultation report on the proposal to establish a statutory cooling-off period for beauty and fitness service consumption contracts in early 2020 and to submit a related bill to the Legislative Council The legislative work on the statutory cooling-off period was suspended due to social events and COVID-19. The Council hopes to complete the legislation as soon as possible to provide greater protection for consumer
There are all kinds of test kits advertised with official certification. What should consumers pay attention to before purchasing? Research before purchase: Verify the claimed certification and check the expiry date stated on the test kit. Do not overbuy to avoid wastage. The government has consolidated a list of approved rapid test kits for the public’s reference. Using this as a foundation, the Consumer Council has developed a Search Tool that combines the relevant approved RAT lists from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, Singapore, Australia,EU and USA, to help consumers select suitable RAT kits. What should consumers pay attention to when purchasing test kits online? Online stores generally do not provide the expiry date of the products. Consumers should not fully trust the claim listed on websites. Use a payment method with a chargeback mechanism when possible, such as a credit card. Avoid direct remittances to unknown personal accounts, as it may be difficult to seek redress in the event of disputes. Visit reputable traders/online stores. Purchase an appropriate quantity of test kits according to actual needs to avoid wastage. Many test kits in the market are advertised with the EU CE mark. Does it mean that the product has obtained EU approval? Simply having a CE mark on the packaging does not mean the product has been tested for quality by the EU authorities. It is only a self-declaration that does not require licensing. If the RAT Kit has a CE mark, consumers can check if the test kit is listed in the EU’s “Common List of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests”. It is worth-noting that even though the initial intention of the list was to include the RAT kits used by healthcare professionals, some manufacturers on the list have also produced models for lay persons’ use. If the product is for personal testing, for example, those generally available at retail points, consumers can pay attention to whether there is a set of 4 digits next to the CE mark. This number is the identification number of the notified body which ensures that the product’s design and packaging are suitable for regular consumer use. What are “sensitivity” and “specificity” in RATs? The sensitivity of a rapid test kit refers to the ability to detect a positive result in an infected person. The specificity of a rapid test kit refers to the ability to test negative results in non-infected individuals. The World Health Organization recommends RATs to have a sensitivity of at least 80% and specificity of at least 97%. If the brand of the RAT kit is not listed in the Council’s Approved Rapid Antigen Test Kits Search Tool, does it mean that the product is ineffective? It isn’t easy to generalise as there are different reasons for relevant products not showing on the list. For instance, the manufacturer may not have applied to be added to the list, or it may not be sold in the local market, so it is not included in the list in the relevant region. For consumers, however, if the relevant product can be found using the Search Tool, it would naturally give consumers more reassurance. The Council will regularly update the information in the Search Tool, so consumers are advised to refer to the tool before purchasing. How can I interpret the data of “prospective clinical field studies” and “retrospective in vitro studies” on the Approved List? The EU requires an independent body to verify the performance of the test kits through prospective clinical studies or retrospective in vitro studies. The list will generally indicate which country or region the verification was carried out by an independent agency. For example, “DE” means the study was conducted by a German testing agency. Prospective clinical field studies: A sensitivity greater than 80% when tested in symptomatic participants (within the first 7 days after symptom onset) or asymptomatic participants when the diagnosis was confirmed by RT-PCR nucleic acid testing in an independent field study; or A sensitivity of the test for participants with CT values <25 (i.e. a high viral load) should be 90% or greater for independent assessments. A specificity above 98%. At least 100 positive nucleic acid test participants and at least 300 negatives. Retrospective in vitro studies: A sensitivity greater than 80% when tested in symptomatic participants (within the first 7 days after symptom onset) or asymptomatic participants when the diagnosis was confirmed by RT-PCR nucleic acid testing in an independent field study; or A sensitivity of the test for participants with CT values <25 (i.e. a high viral load) should be 90% or greater for independent assessments. A specificity above 98%. At least 100 positive nucleic acid test participants and at least 300 negatives. Some said that only RAT kits produced after November 2021 are reliable. Is that true? Most RAT products in the market target the nucleocapsid (N) protein antigen for testing. Generally speaking, as there is a lower probability of mutation on the N-protein, RAT kits can still detect the Omicron variant in theory. The Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the Centre of Health Protection, Department of Health has conducted a preliminary evaluation of RAT kits procured by the government and confirmed that they effectively detect the Omicron variant. The assessment also included RAT kits manufactured before discovering the Omicron variant (i.e. before November 2021). Generally speaking, nucleocapsid protein is less prone to mutation, and all the RAT kits procured and distributed by the Government target the N-protein antigen. As such, the impact of the emergence of the Omicron variant on RAT’s effectiveness is insignificant. In the EU’s common list, a small portion of products has information indicating the coronavirus variants that can be detected. Some said that if the sensitivity of the RAT kit is low, it is more prone to showing false negatives. Is that true? How can I better protect myself? Compared to nucleic acid tests and when the CT value of the sample is high, the sensitivity of the RAT is lower. As the sensitivity of RAT kits has limitations, the negative results of the RAT should not be completely relied upon to be considered safe, especially as a single negative result cannot completely rule out that the testee has been infected, but is currently in the incubation period, or that the testee is in the early stage of infection. It is vital to take preventive measures, even when a negative RAT result is obtained. Will people at higher risk be advised to retest? What should we watch out for? If you are concerned that the first test result is not accurate, or that the result shows positive, and that you still have a RAT kit on hand, it is recommended to retest. Before taking the RAT, check that the RAT kit falls into the approved list from the government and beware of the expiry date. Refrain from rinsing your nose, drinking water, eating, brushing teeth, gargling, smoking or drinking within 1-2 hours before the test, and follow the instructions listed in the user guide. As the sensitivity of rapid antigen test kits has its limitations, the public should continue to remain vigilant and take preventive measures, including wearing masks properly, maintaining personal hygiene, and following social distancing measures, even if the RAT is negative. How should RAT kits be stored after purchase? Does it need to be placed in the refrigerator? Read the instructions carefully and store the RAT product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, it can be stored in a cool place between 2°C to 30°C. It is not necessary to store it in a refrigerator. If the kit was stored in the refrigerator, it should be left at room temperature (15-30°C) for at least 30 minutes before testing. Do not open the test kit in advance while letting it return to room temperature. Tighten the cap after using the solution bottle. Through developing the Approved Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) Kits Search Tool, the Consumer Council aims to bring convenience to consumers to conduct verification before purchase. The content of the relevant list will be continuously updated to ensure that consumers have the latest consumption information. In addition, the Council will continue to pay close attention to the supply, price, and quality of test kits in the market, as well as the sales practices of traders, and provide consumption tips and warnings promptly to safeguard the public’s health.
1. Resolution High efficiency video coding As we all know, the higher the resolution, the clearer the image. However, streaming high-definition (HD) videos requires a lot of data, which may give rise to stuttering issues. Therefore, consumers should try to choose cameras that support H.265 / H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) technology which is capable of delivering HD videos with compressed data, thus making streaming much smoother. Unobstructed wide-angle view The field of view indicates the angle covered by the lens. For example, a lens with ≥100° angle is classified as ultra-wide angle. A ‘fisheye’ lens with an angle of up to 180° can capture more, but the people and objects captured will be shrunk; space will be distorted; and the pictures captured will become blurry when enlarged. If you want the images to be large and clear and to cover a wide area, an automatic rotating camera will be a good choice! Users can control the pan & tilt function remotely via a mobile phone or windows app. Some models can cover ~360° horizontally and ~120° vertically. However, such models are usually larger in size and more expensive. And unlike cameras with ultra wide-angle lenses, they cannot offer a panoramic view in a single shot. And the images captured by the camera are constrained by the position of its lens at the time. Consumers who do not prefer automatic rotating cameras may install multiple surveillances cameras at various spots at home. But then they will need to think about power connection issues. No more blurry pictures with infrared night vision feature In a dim environment, the images captured will be dark and blurry. Cameras with infrared (IR) LED light or night vision feature can capture images more clearly and will not cause any nuisance to users as human eyes cannot detect IR rays. However, consumers should choose products with automatic IR-cut filter control, which can adjust the IR filter automatically according to the illumination level. Otherwise, camera sensors will receive both visible and IR light, resulting in overexposure and low-quality images. Generally speaking, the intensity of IR light can be roughly estimated based on its wattage or claimed illumination distance. Compact homes may not need strong IR lighting. Also, such feature may be redundant if users only use the cameras during the daytime to monitor their homes while at work. Recording The importance of the video recording function of a surveillance camera needs no further elaboration. However, consumers should pay attention to the choice of storage, e.g., memory card, USB device or cloud, etc. For example, if a memory card is full, the camera will automatically delete the oldest clip to make room for the new clip. Consumers who want to keep a few days’ videos may opt for a memory card with a larger capacity. Also, cameras using H.264 video coding technology take up less storage space as data will be compressed. Two-way real-time audio Most home surveillance cameras come with microphones, allowing users to listen to the audio background captured in the videos. But if consumers want to interact with their pets at home or talk to family members in real time, they will need to choose a model with a built-in microphone/speaker and two-way audio transmission feature. 2. Privacy We sometimes hear about situations where people’s private moments were exposed on the Internet because their home surveillance cameras had been hacked. Therefore, it is important to choose products with enhanced privacy features and consumers should raise their level of vigilance about network security and privacy protection. Choose reliable manufacturers Many home surveillance cameras are automatically connected to the manufacturer's server, so it is important to use products from reputable manufacturers. If the camera does not have sufficient security features, hackers can still easily hack the operations and obtain information even if data is encrypted. Change passwords regularly Change factory default passwords before use. Ensure that passwords are strong enough (including letters, numbers and even symbols, and should not be less than 8 digits). Change passwords regularly. If the camera is installed and set up by a technician, change the password immediately afterward. Only use private devices to log in To prevent your password from being stolen, do not log in using public, unsecured devices or devices which you don’t possess administrative rights over. Do not keep the camera on Only activate the camera when necessary. Update regularly Responsible manufacturers will continue to enhance the operation and correct bugs after the product launch. Users should always check and update firmware (which is the software embedded in the products). It is worth mentioning that when installing home surveillance cameras, in addition to informing every member of the family (including domestic helpers) and visitors, the scope and extent of the surveillance must also be carefully considered. For example, monitoring the activities of domestic helpers using home surveillance cameras may have already violated their privacy, and as such employers should consider other possible ways. If video surveillance is still preferred, it is necessary to communicate thoroughly with the domestic helper(s) and handle the video recordings properly. For further information on personal information and privacy matters, please contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data or visit its website: www.pcpd.org.hk. 3. Sustainable consumption Have you ever considered buying second-hand surveillance cameras? Some people may no longer need their surveillance cameras as the elderlies at home have moved to nursing homes or they no longer employ any domestic helpers. Others may simply want to switch models and sell their current ones. Buying these second-hand cameras is a good way to use resources effectively. Generally speaking, a good quality camera, if has not been dropped or water-damaged, can usually last for more than 5 years. Consumers should check to make sure that the second-hand camera is not too old and that its features are desirable. At the same time, the original invoice may be missing or the warranty period may have expired, thus it will be difficult to obtain after-sales service. Therefore, consumers must check thoroughly to make sure the second-hand camera is functioning properly. If you suspect that the internal settings have been altered, you can reset the camera and restore its original factory settings. In addition, consumers may consider choosing the latest or more popular models, as they can access to technical support more readily, and more users will share their comments and experience on the Internet. Third-party resources can also be found catering for these models, such as third-party software to add extra features to the lens. However, it should be noted that products bought outside of Hong Kong may not have designed for local use. As such, the connection speed may be slower or the products may simply not work due to regional coding. Consumers should pay heed to these factors before purchasing. For more information, please refer to the article ‘How to Choose Home Surveillance Cameras Experts Teach You Ways to Prevent Privacy Leakage’ (Chinese version only) in Issue #485 of Choice Magazine. Further reading: Electronic door locks With the emergence of electronic door locks, consumers no longer need to worry about forgetting or losing keys, and their associated security features can also enhance home safety. What are the factors consumers should pay attention to before purchasing? Please refer to the article, ‘Best Gift for the Absent-Minded: Choose Electronic Door Locks with these 3 Tips’ (Chinese version only).
How many types of cheese are there in the world? Do you know that there are more than 500 types of cheese in the world? Since cheese comes from different origins, consumers will encounter many different names on the market, such as ‘fromage’ (French), ‘formaggio’ (Italian) and ‘queso’ (Spanish), etc. But in general, cheese can be roughly divided into two types: natural and processed. Natural cheese This type of cheese is made directly from fresh milk. According to the Codex General Standard for Cheese, the main raw material of natural cheese is raw or pasteurized fresh milk (of cow, buffalo, goat or sheep). Then starter culture of lactic acid bacteria, and/ or (for added aroma and flavours) non-starter cultures of lactic acid bacteria and other harmless microorganisms (e.g., moulds and yeasts) are added to turn lactose into lactic acid. After that, rennet or other coagulants (e.g., acidic substances such as vinegar or lemon juice) are added to coagulate the protein in milk. Salt, water and other additives such as colouring and preservatives are also added. Consumers should note that the rennet used in traditional cheese making is mostly extracted from the stomach of calves. With the rising popularity of vegetarianism in recent years, natural cheeses made from microbial rennet are now available to cater for lacto-vegetarians. Natural cheese can also be classified into the following 4 types according to their aging characteristics: Un-ripened cheese / fresh cheese It needs to be consumed soon after making: e.g., cottage cheese, ricotta, and cream cheese made from milk or cream (e.g., mascarpone and Boursin). Ripened or aged cheese Enzymes, yeasts and bacteria are used in the aging process and the cheese has to be stored for a certain period of time under specific temperatures and conditions, so that the enzymes in the cheese and the microorganisms on the surface or inside have enough time to break down lactose, fat and protein. Mould ripened cheese It is aged by special moulds that grow inside and/or on the surface of the cheese. Blue cheese: Penicillium roqueforti is added to give rise to the veins in shades of greenish blue, e.g., Roquefort, Stilton and Danablu / Danish blue. Bloomy rind cheese: Penicillium camemberti is added to produce the white rind, e.g., Camembert and Brie. Cheese in brine It is a rindless cheese that is aged and stored in brine, e.g., feta and Époisses. Natural cheese can also be divided into the following 4 types according to its water content and hardness. Soft cheese It is high in water content and soft in texture, e.g., Brie, Camembert, cream cheese, mozzarella / buffalo cheese / cottage cheese Semi-hard / semi-soft cheese Its water content is in between soft and hard cheese, e.g., Edam and Gouda. Hard cheese Its water content is relatively low as water is extracted during the manufacturing process through pressing, e.g., Cheddar and Emmental. Extra hard cheese Its water content is very low through pressing and heating during the manufacturing process. It is dry and brittle and can be grated, e.g., Parmesan. Processed cheese It is also known as ‘reconstituted cheese’ and the most common one is sliced cheese. Processed cheese is made by shredding and melting one or more natural cheeses, and adding various dairy ingredients such as butter, casein, milk powder, whey powder, lactic acid and lactose, etc. to achieve the desired taste, texture and meltability. Manufacturers may also add different colourings, stabilizers, anti-caking agents, preservatives, and emulsifiers to get the desired shape (e.g, slice or stick) and extend its shelf life. Apart from the taste, consumers may also consider the ‘cheese’ content as one of the selection criteria. Cheese for kids – what is it? There are some cheese products on the market that are advertised as specially made for young children of various ages. These are actually a type of processed cheese. In fact, the recommended daily sodium intake limit for children aged 1 to 3 and 4 to 8 are 1,000mg and 1,400mg, respectively, but the ‘cheese for kids’ and prepackaged sliced cheese may contain a lot of salt and additives. Young children who consume too much sodium may expose to higher risks of hypertension and kidney disease in the long run. Cheese is not a necessary dietary item for young children. If parents want their children to have a taste of cheese, they can choose a natural cheese that is made from pasteurized milk and naturally fermented to full maturity (e.g., Cheddar and Parmesan). These cheeses are generally additive-free and have lower sodium content, making them more suitable for young children aged 6 months or older. However, if any family member suffers from food allergies or lactose intolerance, or if the child suffers from asthma or eczema, it is recommended that dairy items should only be added to the diet after the child turns 1 year old to reduce the risk of food allergies and exacerbating asthma or eczema symptoms. Cheese can be so ‘nutritious’ To many people, the first impression of cheese is "tasty but fattening". In fact, cheese is also rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin B12, and can bring great benefits to the human body. Parmesan has the highest protein content The Council tested 40 models of cheese on the market, and 39 of them reached the "high-protein" level. On a per 100g basis, the average protein content of natural cheese samples was 22.5g. Parmesan had the highest at 30.0g while Brie had the lowest at 17.8g. The average protein content of processed cheese samples was 17.6g, with smoked cheese containing the highest (21.7g) and ‘processed cheese for kids’ containing the least (14.0g). Certain processed cheese can be particularly high in calcium content The calcium in cheese helps to maintain healthy bones, and control blood pressure and muscle contraction. Good lactic acid bacteria also break down lactose into lactic acid during the fermentation process. Lactic acid bacteria help digestion, inhibit the reproduction of harmful bacteria in the digestive systems, and promote the synthesis of vitamin B complex and vitamin K to maintain intestinal health. People with lactose intolerance can try to replace milk with cheese to supplement calcium intake. The test results showed that 36 models reached the "high-calcium" level. Among them, 2 models of processed cheese had higher calcium content due to the addition of calcium phosphate. Phosphorus is one of the elements that make up bones and teeth. The test showed that all of the 40 models reached "high-phosphorus" level. How "evil" can cheese be? Consumers should also beware of the potential health risk associated with poor-quality cheese and over-consumption! Allergy-inducing preservatives From the 40 samples tested by the Council, traces of benzoic acid, propionic acid and sorbic acid were detected. According to the Preservatives in Food Regulations in Hong Kong, benzoic acid is not allowed to be added in cheese as a preservative. Since many cheeses contain benzoic acid naturally, so the benzoic acid detected might not have been artificially added. Although no sample was found to contain excessive preservatives, people who are sensitive to these preservatives should exercise extra care. Total bacterial count exceeding limit Aerobic colony count is an indicator of hygienic quality and reflects the general quality and remaining shelf life of food items. In this test, 1 non-fermented cheese was found to contain 13,000,000 CFU/g, which exceeded the 10,000,000 CFU/g limit, indicating that its hygiene situation was unsatisfactory. Consumers should therefore choose products carefully. In addition, the milk from which cheese is made may be unpasteurized raw milk, or contain pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria. Although Listeria can be killed by normal cooking temperatures, it can survive and breed in a refrigerated environment with temperature as low as 0°C. Although most healthy individuals may not experience any symptom after contracting Listeria, or only have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle pain, serious complications may occur in young children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems, and can be fatal. Infection of Listeria during pregnancies may lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or meningitis in newborns. Therefore, consumers should pay extra attention! In general, cheese with lower moisture content and harder texture is more difficult for bacteria to breed. On the contrary, soft cheese has a relatively high moisture content, and if unpasteurized raw milk is used as the raw material, it can be prone to bacterial growth. High-fat and high-sodium The most ‘evil’ trait of cheese is its high content of fat and sodium. Excessive intake of fat and sodium may increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. Consumers should therefore be extra careful when consuming cheese. a. Fat According to the Centre for Food Safety (CFS), food that contains more than 20g of total fat per 100g is considered a ‘high-fat’ food. From the test results, it was found that 29 out of the 40 models reached ‘high-fat’ level. On a per 100g basis, the average total fat content of natural cheese samples was 26.7g while that of processed cheese samples was 22.6g. The Chinese Nutrition Society recommends a daily fat intake limit of 60g for adults who are on a 2,000kcal-calorie diet. In other words, it is easy to exceed the limit if you don’t pay enough attention! Apart from the serving size, consumers should also select carefully as the test results revealed that the fat content could differ by as much as 24.3g (per 100g) among different cheeses! b. Sodium Salt is often added in the cheese-making process to: 1. Kill the various bacteria that may affect the ripening of cheese. 2. Control the growth of lactic acid bacteria and mould in cheese, thereby controlling its flavor and taste. 3. Remove excess whey. 4. Neutralize the bitterness of some cheeses. Therefore, it is difficult for natural cheese to be low in sodium. The food additives in processed cheese, including emulsifiers and seasonings, may contain additional sodium, so the sodium content of processed cheese is generally higher than that of natural cheese. The test results showed that the average sodium content of the natural cheese per 100g sample size was 595mg while that of the processed cheese was 1,194mg (which was twice as high). 25 out of the 40 models reached ‘high- sodium’ level. Cheese-pairing tips We often hear that cheese and red wine is a match made in heaven. However, are all red wines good in the pairing? In addition to fruit and bread, what other foods can be paired with cheese? Let’s find out more: Wine Red wines that are light and fruity are more suitable to pair with cheese. For example, a dry and fresh red wine goes well with fresh goat cheese. In fact, white wines match better with a variety of cheese than red wines and some cheeses are best paired with beer. Some consumers may choose to pair cheese with wine from the same region (e.g., Belgium). Fruit When paired with fruit, cheese can be quit refreshing in taste. For example, goat cheese and dried figs, blue cheese and raisins, Camembert and apples; mascarpone and strawberries, Gorgonzola and pears. Nuts Dried fruit can neutralise the saltiness in cheese while dried nuts can bring out its unique flavour. So, both are suitable for pairing. Bread / biscuits In general, baguette and pain de campagne are suitable to pair with different cheeses. Cheese with a strong smell is better with bread that carries strong characteristics, e.g., blue cheese that is salty and has a strong taste can be paired with sweet raisin bread. Biscuits and bread sticks are great for cheese dipping sauce and cream cheese, or as a snack in between different cheese. Vegetables Carrot and cucumber sticks are great for dipping in fresh cheese such as Boursin. Mozzarella / buffalo cheese goes well with tomato on a pizza. Jam / honey Jam and honey go well with fresh cheese. They make strong cheese such as blue cheese and hard cheese softer on the palate. Herbs / spices A little bit of herbs or spices can add depth to the taste of cheese. With appropriate pairing, food can bring out the unique flavor of cheese and enhance the culinary experience. It should also be noted that except for fresh cheese, it is best to take out the cheese from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to consumption, as cheese tastes better at room temperature. Storage Tips Let’s see if you store your cheese in the correct way: Once opened, most cheese should be wrapped in cling film, a storage bag or aluminum foil, then sealed in a food container or wooden box and stored in the refrigerator or in accordance with the storage instructions on the product label. The base of the food container can be lined with vegetables to prevent the cheese from drying out and cracking. It should also be noted that cheese should be stored separately from wine to prevent the latter from absorbing the smell of cheese. If you want to find out which cheese has the highest fat and sodium content, please refer to the article ‘Cheese Are Rich in Calcium and Protein but Beware of Its High Content of Fat and Calcium’ (Chinese version only) in issue #535 of CHOICE Magazine. To get more trivia facts about cheese, you may also want to refer to the article ‘Know the Different Types of Cheese Enhance Your Culinary Experience’ (Chinese version only) in issue #483 of CHOICE Magazine. Further reading: The secret of milk packaging Have you ever thought that the different packaging of milk, such as gable-top carton / Tetra brik / glass bottles, etc., actually conveys certain information? What signs do you need to look for on the packaging if you want your milk to have a smoother taste? To find out more about these trivia facts, please refer to the article ‘Trivia: How to Decode Milk Packaging’ (Chinese version only).
1. Face creams Watch the following videos to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pyV1OmA2Rk(Chinese only) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6izXNO4deB4(Chinese only) What is the differences between day cream and night cream? During the daytime, many beauty lovers customarily apply a moisturising face cream and a sunscreen product on their face, to be followed by foundation and other cosmetics, so day creams are usually lighter in texture. Night creams, on the other hand, are usually more nourishing with added properties such as whitening and anti-wrinkling. A quick look at the ingredient list to find out the moisturising efficacy A good moisturising face cream should contain components including humectants, emollients, and occlusive agents, which not only hydrating but also forming a protective film onto the skin surface to reduce moisture loss. When consumers purchase a moisturising cream, they should check whether the products contain the following ingredients: a. Humectants Humectants can help to absorb moisture from the dermis layer of the skin to the stratum corneum. The most common humectants are polyols which have small molecules and are soluble in water and oil, e.g., glycerin, propylene glycol, butylene glycol and sorbitol, which can assist in the absorption of water-soluble ingredients. The moisturising efficacy of glycerin is particularly remarkable. The International Consumer Research & Testing (the ‘ICRT’) tested 48 moisturising face creams on the international market, and about half of the models could increase the moisture level of the stratum corneum by ≥30% after 4 weeks of continuous application. In more than 10 models, consumers could find glycerin in either the 2nd or 3rd position in the ingredient list, indicating its relatively high concentration in the formula. In addition, urea, hyaluronic acid / sodium hyaluronate and sodium lactate are all good humectants. Hydrophilic polymers such as hydrolyzed proteins and hyaluronic acid can form a protective film on the skin surface to reduce moisture loss. b. Emollients Emollients can fill the open spaces in the skin cells and smooth out the skin surface, making the skin soft and improving its elasticity. Squalene, jojoba oil, vegetable oil and wax are some of the commonly used emollients. c. Occlusive agents Occlusive agents can form a protective film on the skin surface to reduce moisture loss. However, they may leave the skin feeling sticky and greasy after use. Commonly used occlusive agents include petroleum, paraffinum liquidum / mineral oils, silicone derivatives and lanolin. d. High alcohol content = low moisturising efficacy? Skin may become dry after prolonged contact with alcohol or alcohol denat. in high concentration. However, from the moisturising efficacy test, the Council found that certain products that contained a relatively high alcohol content (e.g., listed in the 3rd or 4th position of the ingredient list) could still achieve a good moisturising efficacy as long as their glycerin content occupied a higher position in the ingredient list. In fact, alcohol plays multiple roles in skincare products, and alcohol in high concentration may have bactericidal effect. The existence of alcohol can make a cream feel less heavy on the skin after use. It may also act as a solvent, helping certain ingredients dissolve into the products or penetrate the skin surface. However, a product with high alcohol concentration may indeed irritate the skin and cause allergic contact dermatitis. Therefore, consumers who have had adverse reactions to alcohol-based skincare products should avoid face creams with high alcohol content. On the other hand, skincare products with low alcohol concentrations (less than 5%) are less likely to dry out the skin. e. Products with cyclopentasiloxane scored lower in moisturising efficacy Siloxane compound cyclopentasiloxane (D5) is a volatile silicone oil which makes skincare products easier to apply and the skin feeling smoother and more refreshing after use. D5 can form a protective film on the skin surface to reduce moisture loss. However, from the moisturising efficacy test, the Council found that certain models with D5 as an important ingredient generally had inferior moisturising efficacy if they did not contain glycerin or had glycerin listed in lower positions in the ingredient list. For people with dry skin, as their skin already lacks of moisture, the use of D5 to prevent moisture loss may not be enough in improving the overall moisture level of the stratum corneum. Furthermore, D5 may also carry ecological impact if inappropriately released to the environment. f. Allergens /endocrine disrupting chemicals People with sensitive skin should pay special heed to fragrance allergens, preservatives and endocrine disrupting chemicals that are in the ingredient list: Fragrance allergens Including citral、citronellol、geraniol、limonene、linalool、eugenol、benzyl benzoate and farnesol. Formaldehyde／ formaldehyde-releasing substances People who are allergic to formaldehyde should pay heed to substances such as DMDM hydantoin and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol. Preservatives Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) (which is banned in Europe), iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC) and long-chain parabens such as isopropyl- and isobutyl-parabens are endocrine disrupting chemicals that may affect chemical reactions inside the human body. Sunscreen Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is a possible endocrine disrupting chemical. Gel vs. cream – which one is better? Are you also confused by the foregoing question? According to the test results, the Council found no significant difference in moisturising efficacy between creams and gels. Is the ‘24-hour hydration’ claim really possible? Some products on the market claimed to have a ‘24-hour hydration’ effect, but some previous overseas tests found that the hydration effect of moisturising creams could not be effectively maintained for 24 hours. Besides, most people normally take a bath and wash their face within 24 hours and therefore will not apply a cream only once for the whole day, so consumers should not make a purchase decision based on this claim alone. Are products advertised as "dermatologist tested or approved" more reliable? Previously, the Council found that some skincare products which were labeled as "dermatologist tested or approved" or "hypoallergenic" still contained allergens. Therefore, consumers are advised against making purchase decisions solely based on these claims. As for skincare products that claim to be "paraben free ", it does not mean that these products do not contain other preservatives. Is it normal to have a slight stinging sensation after using face cream? If there is a slight stinging sensation on the skin at the initial stage of using a face cream, it may be due to dryness of skin tissue or minor inconspicuous skin damage. If this is the case, continue using the product and the sensation should gradually subside after a few days. However, if the pain intensifies or even a burning sensation develops, it may be due to the development of allergic reactions, and one should stop using the product immediately. Pilling = bad quality? Nowadays, a number of skincare products contain high molecular polymers such as hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen, carbopol, carbomer, acrylates / C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, etc. These substances cannot be easily absorbed by the skin and form a thin film on the skin surface. Rubbing layers of skincare products and cosmetics on the face may cause pilling on the skin. Since the high molecular polymer film may prevent the skin from absorbing the ingredients of the skincare product, it is best to use these products as the last step in the skincare routine. Is there a best time for moisturisation? The ideal time to moisturise is after your daily cleansing routine. Gently dry the skin with a towel and apply the skincare product immediately afterwards while the skin is still moist. In general, follow the foregoing routine twice a day should suffice. On days when the skin is particularly dry or on certain dry patches, you may reapply moisturising cream as needed. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of dry skin In addition to prolonged exposure to dry conditions or the sun, the following factors may also contribute to continuous moisture loss: Aging As the estrogen level falls, sebum production will decrease and the stratum corneum will become thinner, thus weakening the skin's ability to retain moisture and making it dry. Inappropriate cleansing procedures Using strong cleansing products, over-cleansing, or washing the face with piping-hot water may weaken the skin's protective layer, making it more prone to dryness. Bad habits Having insufficient rest or drinking insufficient water can also make the skin look dull. Frequent alcohol consumption may also give rise to faster moisture loss as it raises the skin temperature and causes the skin capillaries to dilate. Therefore, consumers should pay attention to what causes their skin problems. If the dry skin is caused by cold weather and dry environment, then choosing a good moisturising product can generally improve the condition. However, if it is due to skin aging or prolonged exposure to the sun, using skincare products may only delay or alleviate the problem. 2. Moisturising masks Let’s watch a short film and get some ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXMO-cn36eo&t=2s(Chinese only) Sheet vs. Cream Mask: Which one should I choose? Sheet moisturising mask may not be suitable for people with combination skin as it may promote the growth of acnes or fat granules on the oily parts of the skin while hydrating the dry parts. Using a cream mask can instead target the specific areas on the face to strengthen the moisturising effect. Products containing hyaluronic acid = superior moisturising efficacy? Hyaluronic acid is only a commonly used humectant, which moisturises by drawing moisture from the skin. The product’s moisturising efficacy will depend on the concentration of hyaluronic acid and the formula’s effectiveness in helping the skin to absorb the hyaluronic acid. The degree of absorption may also vary depending on individual skin types. What kind of sheet mask texture is less allergenic? In fact, allergic reactions to sheet mask materials rarely happen in daily life or clinical cases. The choice of material is generally based on personal preferences, such as the thickness, smoothness, coarseness and level of adherence. On the contrary, consumers should focus on product ingredients. Generally speaking, whitening and anti-aging masks are more likely to cause allergies. Consumers should also pay attention to whether the masks contain allergenic preservatives. Daily usage may make the skin look worse? For people with oily skin, daily usage may increase the chance of acnes and fat granules due to excessive replenishment of oil components. For people with eczema and sensitive skin, frequent usage of masks may increase the chance of skin allergies and make eczema conditions worse. Consumers should also check the recommended frequency of use on the packaging. Masks should not be used daily if the product description recommends usage only once or twice a week. The longer the time, the better the result? Quite the contrary! You should not leave the mask on the face for longer than the recommended duration. Otherwise, skin moisture will be drawn by the mask instead, causing an opposite effect. To find out which models of face cream and moisturising mask have better moisturising efficacy, please refer to the articles ‘17 Moisturising Day Creams Tested to Distinguish Their Moisturising Efficacy’(Chinese version only)and ‘Moisturising Face Masks Varied Considerably in Effects and Prices 7 Models Were Superior in Performance’ (Chinese version only), in issues #481 and #486 of CHOICE Magazine.
At present, most dehumidifiers on the market are compressor-type dehumidifiers while desiccant-type dehumidifiers have gradually been withdrawn from the market. In addition, there are 2-in-1 air purifying dehumidifiers which usually claim to remove particulate matter and formaldehyde. The working principle of the compressor-type dehumidifier is using the compressor to propel and circulate the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser. Moisture in the air (moisture in the air condenses, not the moist air) passing through the evaporator will condense into water droplets on the surface of the evaporator and drip down into the water tank. Then, the air will be discharged out of the radiating pipe, drier and warmer than before. Then, the air will be discharged out of the radiating pipe, drier and warmer than before. Don’t trust the manufacturer's test environment; you should refer to the energy label Usually there are two daily dehumidifying capacity values, one commonly found in energy labels and one in product promotion leaflets. At present, compressor-type dehumidifiers sold in Hong Kong must bear the energy label specified in the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme. The energy efficiency level on the label is calculated based on the energy efficiency, the rated dehumidification amount in a standard environment and other data provided by a certified laboratory in the test report submitted by the agent to the EMSD. It is mainly divided into 5 levels, with level 1 representing the highest energy efficiency and being most energy-saving among dehumidifiers with the same rated dehumidifying capacity. The amount of dehumidification given on the energy label is measured in thestandard environment specified in the labelling scheme and is more objective. The claimed dehumidifying capacity marked on the promotion leaflets are usually measured under the manufacturer's test environment(i.e. temperature 30°C and relative humidity 80%), and may not accurately reflect actual circumstances of use. Consumers should pay attention to the test temperature and humidity when referring to the daily dehumidification amount claimed on the promotion leaflet or product manual. It is not advisable to use the set of values measured under higher temperature and humidity for product comparison. For example, the daily dehumidifying capacity of compressor-type dehumidifiers measured under higher temperature and humidity will be higher, which may mislead consumers into thinking that the performance of the product is better, yet failing to meet up to expectations during usage. Dehumidifying Performance under the standard environment: the actual dehumidifying capacity may be lower than claimed Under standard environment, does the actual daily dehumidifying capacity match the values of the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme? The test results showed that 6 models had a lower dehumidifying capacity than claimed. Some were only slightly lower by about 0.1% to 1.1%, while 1 was about 6.9% lower than its claimed value, but the difference was still within the 10% tolerance level which is acceptable under the scheme. What is a inverter-type compressor dehumidifier? Inverter-type compressor dehumidifiers can automatically adjust the speed within a certain range, while compressor dehumidifiers can only operate at the highest power consumption mode and cannot adjustthe speed. The inverter-type compressor dehumidifier will operate at a higher speed upon starting, and it will automatically reduce the speed when the indoor humidity reaches the preset relative humidity. The power consumption at low speed is lower than that at high speed, but the key is that the energy efficiency at lower speed is generally higher, so it can save energy. No need to buy the model with highest dehumidifying capacity ? It is advisable to consider home environmental factors Understand your actual need at home (在選購時) when choosing a product: if your home is large or you live close to the sea or in a humid district, or if you want quick dehumidification, consider models with stronger capacity, and vice versa. In addition, you can also consider whether you need to turn on the dehumidifier all year round at home, or whether there is a requirement for the dehumidifying speed. For example, users who do not require particularly high dehumidifying speed can consider cheaper and smaller models. Air Purifying Performance varied significantly Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) This is a parameter that reflects the air purification ability of the air purifier, which refers to the speed at which the air purifier provides air without specific pollutants, and the higher the value, the faster the speed of purification of the pollutants, the better the purification capacity. Removal of particulate matter: Particulate matter refers to cigarette smoke, dust and pollen, etc. The CADR of the four 2-in-1 air purifying dehumidifiers were tested. Taking the results of removing cigarette smoke as an example, the slowest speed was 45.2FT3/min, while the highest speed was 133.7 FT3/min, that is, the sample with the highest purification speed could be up to 2 times faster. Removal of formaldehyde: All 4 models can reduce the concentration of formaldehyde, but the speed is quite slow, from 5.7 to 16.4 FT3/min. The GB/T standard is measured in cubic metres per hour, and the CADR of each sample in this unit is between 9.7 and 27.9 cubic metres per hour, which means the purification speed varied by 1. 9 times. Easy to use Other details to consider, such as ease of use, are also important points to note before purchase. Here is a brief list: Exterior design Size Whether it will occupy a lot of space, whether it can be stored when not in use, or whether it can only be placed in the corner of the living room. Movable castors: Whether it is convenient for the user to move, for example, between the living room and bedroom. Cover of air outlet: If there is no cover for the upward air outlet, dust can easily fall into the air outlet when the dehumidifier is not in use. Daily usage Control panel functions: For example, can you preset the timer (preset the one-off time, not timer)to avoid operating for too long or forgetting to shut down. Extended hose: Some models come with an extension hose that can be used to dehumidify wardrobes or shoe cabinets. Water tank: Pay attention to the capacity, whether it requires frequent emptying, the difficulty of assembly, and the design of the handle. Other: Indicator light, switches/buttons operations. Cleaning and maintenance Easy assembly: For two-in-one models with air purifiers, attention should be paid to whether it is easy to install and remove the HEPA filter and dust filter. Indicators: Some models have a filter cleaning reminder, but it is also important to note that the filter of some models cannot be cleaned with water. Costs in the long run: The filter of two-in-one air purifying dehumidifiers has to be replaced in a timely manner, and the cost of replacing the filter in the long run should be considered; the filter must be cleaned and replaced in a timely manner; otherwise, the air purifying performance will be greatly reduced. After understanding the above points, let’s look at the actual tests!【Issue 520 of "Choice" monthly magazine: First test of 2-in-1 dehumidifiers Air purification performance is uneven 5 dehumidifiers have outstanding performance(Chinese Only)】See which model is right for you!
What are the “more sustainable” choices in Hong Kong? In recent years, there are a number of new developments in Hong Kong on sustainable consumption, such as waste reduction at source initiatives (e.g., zero-waste store) and recycling initiatives (e.g., garment to garment recycling system, Tetra Pak recycling facility), etc. 1 Zero-waste store in Hong Kong The first zero-waste store was opened in 2018 in Sai Ying Pun and more stores joined to provide no-packaging products in order to minimize the use of packaging materials. Packaging materials, despite having a short shelf life (of a few minutes to a few days), constitute a major part of municipal solid waste. 2 The world's first garment to garment recycling system The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), in cooperation with garment manufacturers and international apparel brands, developed and launched the world’s first garment to garment recycling system (G2G) in Hong Kong in December 2018. The G2G system can perform a series of processes including: cutting fabric into smaller pieces, opening and mixing fibre, carding, spinning and garment knitting. It takes as little as 4 hours to turn an old garment into a new piece and has showcased the textile and garment industry’s ability to achieving sustainable development. 3 Drink cartons can now be recycled! The main recyclable materials in Hong Kong include paper, metal, plastic and glass. As compound materials are difficult to recycle, items such as drink cartons which are typically made from layers of paper, polyethylene and aluminum, have a recycling rate close to zero and generate a large amount of waste. In view of this, one beverage manufacturer in Hong Kong launched a new recycling scheme and a recycling facility in 2019 to promote sustainable development of the industry, with dozens of smart recycling systems installed in various locations throughout the territory. 4 Various ecolabelling programs In order to help consumers in finding sustainable products, a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong have put in place various ecolabelling and certification programs to attest the environmental standards across a wide range of products, from household cleaning products to building materials. Hong Kong Green Label Scheme CIC Green Product Certification – HK G-Pass HKQAA Hong Kong Registration-Eco-Friendly Series Sustainable consumption can be “Strong” or “Weak” “Weak Sustainable Consumption” refers to actions arising from individuals’ own needs or choices to conserve and reduce waste. For example, one will switch off the lights when leaving a room, or select a more energy-efficient model when purchasing a new electrical product. These actions can save money and also are eco-friendly. They are relatively easy to follow as consumers do not need to make drastic changes to their original consumption behaviour. However, “Weak Sustainable Consumption” alone is not enough to support the sustainable development of our society. Therefore, it is necessary to promote “Strong Sustainable Consumption”. "Strong Sustainable Consumption" must take into account matters such as "product life cycle" and the long-term impact of the purchased product on the ecological environment and society. For example, before making a purchase decision one will consider matters such as power consumption of the product during its production process, labour rights of the workers, impact on the ecological environment of endangered species, possibilities of causing water and air pollution, disposal and recycling options, and corporate social responsibility measures of the manufacturers and retailers, etc. How to promote sustainable consumption? — Let’s learn from our foreign friends! Using economic incentives to encourage the consumption of sustainable products: Some foreign governments have launched cash reward programs. For example, the South Korean Government launched the "Green Credit Card Scheme" in 2011. Cardholders are rewarded with points when they use public transportation, buy eco-friendly products, or implement water-saving or energy-saving measures at home and the points accumulated can then be used to purchase eco-friendly products or services. Certification / accreditation programs operated by a government agency or a credible third-party organisation can increase the transparency of product information: It is not easy for consumers to obtain information on the sustainability aspect of a product. There are a number of voluntary ecolabelling schemes in the world, such as “EU Ecolabel” by the European Union, which allow consumers to identify products that meet high environmental standards. Besides, the "Seafood Guide" launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which uses simple and easy-to-understand guidelines to assist consumers in choosing sustainable seafood. A user-friendly platform can facilitate consumers in accessing information about sustainable products: There are different types of claims and labels relating to sustainable products on the market. Consumers need to have sufficient knowledge or invest enough time to understand the certification process and regulatory system behind these ecolabels and determine whether the products actually meet their needs. Therefore, an easy-to-browse platform can save consumers time while promoting sustainable consumption behaviour. Sending gifts this festive season can be more eco-friendly by simply saying "No need to wrap, thank you!" We also want to remind everyone to consume smartly! As the festive season approaches, when consumers buy chocolates or candies as gifts, they should opt for those in ordinary packaging. Gift boxes are often over-packaged, and therefore are also more expensive when compared with ordinary packaging. After reading the above information, why not take a quiz?! You can find in “Quiz for the Eco Consumption Guru”, CHOICE Magazine, Issue 521 (Chinese version only) a list of questions on your consumption patten relating to clothing, dining, living and commuting. Let’s find out if you are a “Basic” or an “Advanced” level eco consumption guru!